Are there insect issues with birch trees?

Birch tree in the spring
Photo credit: Stephen Ward

Is it true that white paper birch in the Willamette Valley have been infested with insect like beetle? I wanted to plant one this spring and my yard maintenance service told me I should consider a different type due to the insect problem.

- Marion County, Oregon

Yes it is true that some ornamental white birches in the Willamette Valley have been infested with beetle-like insects. For example, the bronze birch borer is a wood boring beetle that has been causing scattered problems in birch in our area (see more detailed history and local occurrence here
The actual risk of insect infestation in your case will depend on more specifics of your location, the species you are interested in, local soil/site conditions, and how you care for the trees.
Stressed trees are often most vulnerable to wood borers. You can improve your chances of keeping trees vigorous and healthy by choosing species well-adapted to your site conditions and anticipated irrigation/fertilization levels.

If you like birch trees, you have a variety of options for species and varieties of birch that are relatively resistant to bronze birch borers (if those are the primary insect threat in your area). 

Glenn Ahrens
Forestry Extension Specialist
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